Effects of Sanitization as Disinfectants for COVID-19 Pathogens

Gautam Kumar Das

On my return from the market, around 10 am in the morning, I found several droplets of liquid scattered all around the door steps and smell a lot of smells of bleach at the stair case of our residential flat. I enquire on the matter to the residents living in the ground floor after a thorough vigil. The resident dwellers, on their reply, said that a school mistress, flat owner in the second floor, has been detected as corona-positive and that’s why the heath department of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation sanitized in and around the residential complex after duly informed. But the people know now that most persons get the disease by breathing in droplets in the air from an infected person, not by coming into contact with a contaminated surface.

Sanitizing undoubtedly can help reduce the spread of corona viruses while sanitizing frequently touched surfaces. But wherever sanitization implemented, particularly at outdoor, a week to fortnight after the sanitization, several residents started experiencing headaches and suffering from vomiting tendency in the different cities and municipal areas. And these are the reasons for which the World Health Organization warns against the usages of disinfectants in the indoors as well as outdoors because streets and sidewalks are not considered as sources of contamination for COVID-19. Spraying of such disinfectants can cause noxious for people’s health and can be harmful and cause damage to people’s health, skin irritation and problems of eyes and respiratory system etc.

Even so, Uttar Pradesh and some other states of India continue to spray disinfectants in public areas even upon the public gatherings particularly over the migrant labourers, those who returned back to their homes from the other states as the corona virus outbreaks has caused public fear in many cities and states in our country. Government health department of many states implement spraying more and more disinfectants in order to ensure the virus has been killed in those areas and to lessen the anxieties of virus contamination. Such implementation of sanitization programme on the urban areas has direct harmful effect on the wildlife during lock down period, and now upon the people when the lock down is unlocked.

Sanitizing has been initiated when the people came to know that the spread of corona viruses was from the highly touched surfaces, and to disinfect them, sanitization is the most effective ways in order to combat such contamination of pathogens. Almost all the countries including France Spain China South Korea started spray of disinfectants upon the densely populated urban areas. Trucks robots and even drones were used and those drenched streets, parks, playgrounds, homes, and other public spaces with the spray of disinfectants that would kill viruses. But the health hazards due to inhaling of chemicals used as ingredients of the disinfectants are being reported that causes respiratory irritation to the people of the sanitizing areas.

These health hazards are the consequences of the release of fatal gases from the bleach and ammonia used in the disinfectants. And usage of such chemical through implementation of sanitizing programme leads to danger of the wildlife in the urban areas, even kills a number of wildlife species as reported by the authorities of some cities globally. Some cities reported of the poisoned wildlife due to the implementation of the sanitization. In a city of south-western China, at least 135 wild animals under 17 species category including wild boars, Siberian weasels, and black birds had died after coming in contact with the chemicals of the disinfectants. Ingredients of the disinfectants used for sanitization are generally sodium hypochlorite, chlorine and bleach which are known as toxic substances for aquatic and terrestrial fauna.

Excessive application of such disinfectants is very much harmful to the urban wildlife. Exposures of these toxicants when enter into a system, they are moving to the food web and this is termed as ecology 101. Chemical disinfectants works first on the cell walls of the virus and then destroy the protein content remain inside the viral body through oxidation. Naturally, human being after exposure to these chemicals of the disinfectants, the ingredients may cause irritation or corrode the mucous membranes of the respiratory system and elementary canal that might even lead to death of the human being. On contrary, in the present situation of COVID-19 pandemic, hand sanitizer is useful if it is properly used and properly prepared.

Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, containing at least 60 percent alcohol, is the best option according to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention when water and soap are not available for hand wash. Hand sanitizers kill a wide range pathogens that causes disease including new corona virus, SARS-CoV-2. It’s easy to make own hand sanitizer that requires a few ingredients like isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (99 % alcohol volume); aloe vera gel; an essential oil like tea tree oil or lavender oil, or lemon juice. The ratio of volume of alcohol to aloe vera must be 2:1 that maintains the alcohol content around 60%. Homemade sanitizer is not recommended for children. But usage of methanol in the preparation of hand sanitizers are very harmful as methanol is a toxic alcohol.

Anyway, usage of hand sanitizer rather can help destroy corona viruses and useful in prevention of community transmission instead of implementation of sanitization programme that may kill wildlife in the urban areas and even cause health hazards to the human being.

Aug 20, 2020

 Gautam Kumar Das

Your Comment if any